Brands are no longer controlled by corporations or agencies. They’re public property which live and die in the public domain in conversations made ever more penetrating by social media. The idea that the consumer is in control is not new, it’s just too tightly boxed and fails to take into account the tsunami of transparency sweeping the world.
Consumers, investors, employees, business partners and all other interested parties are
voicing their opinions about brands - and they have the cultural megaphones of the internet and movie houses to amplify them.
Corporations are far more interesting than marketing often gives them credit for - just ask the Hollywood film-makers. Movies like Syriana, Thank You for Smoking and Blood Diamonds tackle weighty themes with corporations very much at the centre. Exposing the politics and power plays around petroleum, big tobacco and conflict diamonds respectively they had companies like Shell, Altria and De Beers working their PR firms overtime.
There’s nothing like having Clooney, Damon and DiCaprio on your case to make the C Suite sweaty. Even the kids film, Despicable Me, features the ‘Bank for Supervillains, formerly known as Lehman Brothers’.
Documentary-makers are having a field day with brands such as BP, Goldman Sachs, Chevron and AIG in their sights while The Social Network is David Fincher’s unflattering portrayal of Facebook, which the corporate heavies aren’t thrilled by. It’s a pill they’ll have to swallow as the film has already logged 54,000 fans online and is tipped for Oscar greatness.
As many jack-booted corporations have discovered, the way to handle negative commentary is not to try to control it. What goes around comes around, even for Facebook.